Pause, if you will, and envision the most majestic creature ever to roam a perfectly edged patch of zoysia. A paternal figure so exotic, so pure as to make a basket of Chili’s Southwestern Egg Rolls quake in its wrappers. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you… well, the dad. Dads. You get it.
But the particular brand of dad we’re talking about today isn’t just respected by grass and revered by fast-casual restaurant appetizers. Nay. This gent fully appreciates the form and utility of a beefy, well-constructed pair of dad shoes.
And since dads come in all shapes and sizes — and possess varying degrees of sartorial instinct — we understand that no two fatherly foot sheaths are created equal.
With that, let’s run the gamut with our top 15 picks for the best dad shoes.
The Best Dad Shoes
The active lawn-dad who understands the value of keeping an oldie in the garage and a freshie in the closet (you know, dads know, it’s one of the best sneaker brands). Our guy is squat but firm, just took up pickleball at the local Y, and never misses an opportunity to sick-burn his college buddies via Facebook meme.
Ah, the Monarch. It’s the prince of paternal footwear for a reason. Lightweight yet durable, this
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Leather | Midsole: Phylon | Outsole: Rubber | Price: $75
The cross-training dad who defines cross-training as doing calf raises while catching up on the HOA bylaws with Kent the neighbor.
Function is the name of the game with these guys, taking a backseat only to comfort. The active dad won’t have a problem pivoting from driveway hoops to Concerts on the Green thanks to this pair’s solid bone structure and melba toast demeanor. All else aside, you’re working with a tried and true pair by one of the most trusted names in footwear.
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Leather | Midsole: IMEVA foam | Outsole: Non-marking | Price: $75
The Agassi dad. You know who you are. Even though this wasn’t Andre’s shoe of choice, the 90s padre will appreciate the retro look, emphasis on comfort, and attention to design detail.
What do we mean by design detail? The entire shoe was inspired by the human body — the suede upper subtly represents muscle fibers, the laces take cues from the rib cage and the outsole’s inspiration comes courtesy of your spine. Weird? Maybe. Cool? Definitely. A lot of thought went into this retro-inspired pair of dad shoes and there’s a reason they’re still kicking around after just shy of three decades.
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Mesh and suede | Midsole: Foam | Outsole: High-traction rubber | Price: $175
The budget-conscious dad who values comfort above all else. The ideal mate for these dad shoes likes long walks through the Home Depot aisles and rendezvousing around the grill with the boys on football Sundays.
The standout feature of these shoes is the Memory Foam-cushioned insoles, which provide extra spring and outstanding comfort. Skechers ups the cozy ante with a shock-absorbing midsole, but these dad shoes can also hold their own on the track or in the gym thanks to their high-traction outsole.
Sole: Articu-Lyte | Upper: Leather and synthetic| Midsole: EVA foam | Outsole: High-traction rubber | Price: $80
The dad with no shame in his footwear game. The ideal father figure (and ideal gift for fathers), these slippers puts a premium on both indoor and outdoor comfort and… yes. Yes, pretty much just comfort. And, notably, our guy isn’t afraid to take these suede stunners out on the town. Confidence is key.
Minnetonka has been servicing feet for almost 75 years. From slippers to boots to moccasins, they do it all and do it well. The Alden features a suede upper, Berber lining, and pillowy footbed, making these slippers the perfect pair of never-take-offs. That’s not a thing yet, but we’re willing it into existence.
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Suede | Midsole: Rubber | Outsole: Cushioned rubber | Price: $64.95
The foothills dad who’s too young to un-ironically pull off Monarchs and too old for anything less than a springy, durable pair of pop sneaks. This Air Force 1 guy fancies himself a weekend warrior and deploys the white-on-white crispness of these OG dad shoes on every occasion possible.
Classics are classics for a reason. The Air Force 1 was originally designed in 1982 as a basketball shoe and has been breaking the mold ever since. It lacks the signature chunk of most of the best dad shoes out there, but still manages to stuff its rubber midsole with a
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Leather/Synthetic leather | Midsole: Foam | Outsole: Rubber | Price: $100
The dad who has all but checked out of the “giving a damn about how I look or am perceived” contingent, but isn’t above looking crispy as hell.
These alabaster sneakers feature an aggressively prominent midsole and outsole. Though this is a surefire recipe for cloudlike comfort, the modern dad will need to make some sacrifices in the style department. For those about to chunk, we salute you.
Sole: Synthetic | Upper: Leather | Midsole: Lightweight EVA | Outsole: Molded rubber | Price: $68
The exact opposite dad that you picture when you picture the dad who wears dad shoes. It’s okay, we’ll get through this together. The right man for these shoes respects the life and legacy of rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle — they were made to honor the anniversary of Hussle’s “The Marathon Mixtape” release. Beyond that, they’re just a drippy pair of sneakers that the younger, active dad can wear proudly.
This red-on-white pair of dad shoes sports a mesh upper and synthetic and suede overlays. “Hussle” is printed on a tab on the side of the shoe, adding a stylish wink to the iconic rapper. These dad shoes can double as solid cross-trainers and the perfect pair to bust out for Saturdays at the local brewery. No yard work allowed.
Sole: Synthetic | Upper: Synthetic leather/suede | Midsole: RS technology | Outsole: Leather | Price: $150
The dad who fancies himself an outdoor enthusiast — even if his outdoor experience is limited to the backyard Slip ‘N Slide.
No self-respecting dad would be caught without a pair of these aqua kicks in his closet. Yes, even if they rarely see actual water. Their durable construction adds to their versatility, making them suitable for short hikes, tubing or just walking the dog.
Sole: Synthetic | Upper: Synthetic | Midsole: EVA foam | Outsole: Durable Spider Rubber | Price: $65
Balenciaga’s Triple S is so chunky that it’s basically a spoofy caricature of a dad shoe. This isn’t for your average Bud Light sipping, rib grilling, HOA abiding dad. These fashion-forward kicks are for the splurge-y dad who wants to be noticed.
Exaggerated looks aside, these all-white beefcakes are built to last (and should be with a four-figure price tag). The sole features an air bubble for extra springiness as pops makes his way through the catwalk of life. Though these shoes can no doubt tolerate plenty of sports activity, they’re really more of a showpiece than anything else.
Sole: Rubber| Upper: Polyurethane, Polyester, Nylon | Midsole: Clear Sole technology | Outsole: 3-layered, Clear Sole technology | Price: $1,150
The younger dad who’s starting to dip a toe into fatherhood’s more pedestrian trappings. He still cares enough to try and look his best, but not at the expense of comfort and functionality.
If the New Balance 624 is a boomer, the 574v2 is Gen X. It flies just under the radar in terms of looks. We’re partial to the grey colorway, but it also comes in black, dark blue, and “Nimbus cloud” options. First constructed in 1988 as a hybrid running shoe, it has since developed a reputation as a do-anything pair thanks to its sturdy materials and universal aesthetics.
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Suede and mesh | Midsole: EVA foam | Outsole: Rubber | Price: $85
Hoka’s line of running shoes lives somewhere between chunky dad shoe and stylish (or at least passably stylish) everyday kicks. They’re best for the active runner willing to go against the grain by sporting a beefier sole than other running shoes.
Hoka’s signature thick midsoles feel light as air underfoot, making them ideal for the dad who’s just old enough to start thinking about coddling his knees and joints. The best part is that the Clifton 8 looks reasonably stylish and comes in a boatload of colors, so you’re not sacrificing form for function.
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Mesh | Midsole: Compression-molded EVA | Outsole: High abrasion | Price: $140
You know this dad. He lives in your neighborhood… probably like eight of him. Always in basketball shorts. Oversized t-shirt. Same hat every day. And, of course, a timeless, effortless pair of Addisage Slides.
An educated guess about what makes these things so popular among leisurely dads: the hundreds of massage nubs built into the footbed. Who doesn’t love getting a foot rub while walking the dog?
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Polyurethane | Midsole: EVA | Outsole: Polyurethane | Price: $30
Let’s call him the brewery tasting room dad. The easygoing paternal figure with young kids always in tow. He keeps his Stan Smiths crispy white and would rather laugh at traditional dad shoe memes than ever be caught dead in a pair of Monarchs.
These are a true classic for a reason. The casual dad can wear them anywhere thanks to their low-profile soles and clean look. Bonus: they come in 32 colors.
Sole: Rubber | Upper: Synthetic | Midsole: Synthetic | Outsole: Rubber | Price: $110
Ending things on a cozy note, this is the dream dad shoe. Mostly because it’s not really a shoe but a cloudlike clog for lazy days spent binging Netflix and dreaming of the mowing season.
Slipping into these glorious abominations will be your guilty pleasure time and time again. They feature a faux suede upper and a pillowy lining inside. And speaking of inside, that’s where you might want to limit your use of these pop clogs.
Sole: Synthetic | Upper: Faux suede | Midsole: Synthetic | Outsole: Synthetic | Price: $90
What To Look For In A Pair Of Dad Shoes
Always consider the application of the shoe before making any fitting decisions. If you do a fair amount of running, shoe pros will typically recommend that you size up. In the case of dad shoes, comfort is king. Unless you plan on using them as cross trainers (which some of the shoes on our list could certainly stand up to), stick with your typical shoe size and dial it in from there if necessary.
Here’s where it gets potentially polarizing when it comes to the best dad shoes. By popular definition, it’s the chunkiness of the midsole that best characterizes a dad shoes— but as you can see by our list, chunk isn’t the be-all and end-all.
Younger dads (and, let’s face it, their younger knees) may not need as much midsole cushion. Older gents may find comfort and solace in the dad shoes of yore. Moral of the story: figure out what’s most important to you in this type of sneaker — comfort above all else or unoffensive, go-with-anything looks — and let the midsole be your guide.
Some have a lifelong allegiance to New Balance. Other dads are
- What are dad shoes?
Though they’re still considered trendy today, dad sneakers first popped up decades ago as a comfortable, stylish, and affordable footwear option. Men of a certain age — among them, yes, many dads — flocked around them thanks to their largely versatile looks and comfortable, chunky midsoles.
- How should I style dad shoes?
Thou must only pair dad shoes with acid-washed jeans while standing next to a grill holding a tall boy after mowing and edging the lawn. Except… not at all. You should style dad shoes in whichever way makes you feel most comfortable. The point is that you don’t care what people think, you only care about your comfort. And maybe steaks. And riding mowers. But mostly comfort.
- Are dad shoes acceptable to wear when playing sports?
Absolutely. In fact, several dad shoes’ origin stories are in sports (we’re looking at you Air Force 1s and New Balance 624s). Regardless of the fact that they’ve made a very specific, very meme’d mark on today’s zeitgeist, they’re still largely sturdy and well-constructed workhorses made with a specific application in mind.